My friend Xavier posted a hilarious piece a while back about a 'missing' child. In the comments on that post, I told an 'abridged' version of this story. And now I'm re-telling it in the 'full version' for all of you. . . (Somehow it seems sorta 'ironically apropos' for Memorial Weekend) (or is irony inappropriate on such an occasion? I hope I'm not giving any offense; I certainly don't intend any. . .)
"Can a woman forget her nursing child, or have no compassion on the child of her womb? Even if she may forget, yet I will not forget you." (Isaiah 49:15)
When 2F was three or four years old, and we had three children, Jen's sister, with her four kids, came to our house for a visit. While they were here, we took the kids to a science museum, one of those 'hands-on' places that are just great for kids. We had a great time, although with three adults and seven kids, the oldest of whom might have been eight, it was, at least for the adults, largely an exercise in crowd control (the old commercial about herding cats comes to mind). Even so, we had a great time; when it was time to go, we collected everybody up, counted noses to make sure we weren't missing anybody, piled into the van, and drove home.
It was not long after we got home that it occurred to Jen that she hadn't seen 2F since we'd gotten home. Jen called for her, but she didn't come running. We spent a few minutes looking for her, but she was nowhere to be found. And none of the other kids had seen her recently, either.
We wracked our brains, trying to figure out what could have happened. We had counted heads at the museum, so we were pretty sure that she'd come home with us, so where could she be? Then 1F (who'd have been six or seven at the time) said that she didn't think that 2F had been in the van.
What? But we had made sure that we counted everybody before we left the museum. But, just to be safe, Jen called the museum, and asked if, possibly, they had a little girl there.
"Well," said the very kind woman on the other end of the phone, "I do have a little girl here. What's the name of the girl you're looking for?" Jen told her that we were missing a three-year-old girl named 2F.
"Well, then, I have wonderful news! We have a three-year-old girl named 2F standing right here!" (It turned out that, after we'd done the head-count in the museum lobby, 2F had decided she needed to go to the bathroom, and left without telling anyone what she was doing. And six kids in a van doesn't look all that different from seven kids in a van.)
The very kind woman asked Jen if she'd like to talk to 2F; Jen said yes, she would absolutely like to talk to her. So the kind woman handed the phone to 2F.
"Did you forget me?"
(*tears and snuffles, from both ends of the phone*)
"Ummmmm. . . yes?"
Fortunately, it was only about a mile from our house to the museum, so she was safely back in our arms in just a few minutes. But it was one of those hilariously heart-breaking things that abound in large families. . .